Rumored fee hikes rile aviation lobby

C.J. Ciaramella Contributor
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The airline industry is up in arms against raises in aviation related fees that are rumored to be on the table as part of the debt talks on Capitol Hill.

Although no specific details have emerged yet, airline lobbyists say raises in commercial airline security fees and private operating fees are both being considered by debt-talk leaders.

Fee increases, which would only raise a minuscule amount of revenue relative to the federal government’s financial woes, could still spark a battle between legislators and the powerful airline lobbies.

One airline lobbyist said the per passenger commercial airline security fee might be raised from $2.50 to $5, along with a possible per plane charge of $25.

According to a report by Reuters, one proposal would double the security fee paid by airline passengers to raise at least $15 billion over 10 years.

“The airline industry opposes any plan that increases taxes on the American airline industry and its passengers, who are already subject to 17 different federal taxes that total $17 billion annually — up from $3.7 billion 20 years ago,” Air Transport Association spokesperson Jean Medina said.

The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association says it has also received information that talk of user fees ranging from $25 to $100 or more could be proposed for services such as flight planning or aircraft operations.

“[Politicians] have elected to put back on the table a user fee that would be attached to flight plans or to aircraft operations. Some say it’s $25, some say it’s $100, some say it only applies to jets,” said AOPA President Craig Fuller. “The fact is it would create a new method for raising money from the general aviation community. It’s a proposal that’s been rejected before, and it’s one we need to reject again today.”

Airline security fees have never gone up since they were imposed following 9/11 and the creation of the Transportation Security Administration. The fees cover roughly $1.8 billion — about 40 percent — of the Homeland Security Department’s costs for aviation security.

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